Frequently Asked Questions

A general guide to the most frequently-asked publishing questions.

1 What is an ISBN?

An ISBN, or International Standard Book Number, is a product code which assists booksellers with processing and ordering. Our publishing packages include the use of a SilverWood ISBN, although some authors do supply their own. SilverWood Books assigning your book an ISBN doesn't affect your copyright as an author (all our authors retain the copyright to their own work).

2 Do I really need an ISBN?

Not necessarily. An ISBN isn't a legal requirement. It's a product code which doesn't affect an author's copyright, or the ability to retain control over all aspects of their work (from design and page-layout to printing and marketing).

However, although an ISBN might not be a legal requirement, it is a desirable commodity. Having an ISBN means customers can order your book from most book retailers. Information about your title and a cover image is listed by Nielsen Bookdata and made available to booksellers in 100 countries worldwide. When you see your book listed with online retailers like Amazon, Waterstones or Borders, it's because they've subscribed to Nielsen Bookdata and use Nielsen's data to 'stock' their online bookstore.

  • Online retailers (including silverwoodbooks.co.uk) and other major bookselling chains require an ISBN for internal processing, stock control and ordering.
  • An ISBN can also be a helpful marketing tool that may help sales - bibliographic databases derive information from ISBN lists, passing on that information to libraries and booksellers around the world.
  • An ISBN establishes the 'publisher of record' so with a SilverWood ISBN, SilverWood is your publisher. We subscribe to Nielsen Enhanced Data Listing which means we ensure Nielsen (and thus the book trade) has reliable and up to date information beyond the basic listing of title, author name, ISBN and price; potential buyers can also see a cover image, full synopsis, detailed author biography, table of contents, reviews, awards, and promotional information. As part of our paid subscription, we have continued access to this catalogue listing so that we can add to it as new reviews come in for your book. In addition, SilverWood's good reputation in the trade can help when you approach bookshops.

3 Will my book be listed on Amazon and other online retailers?

If your book has an ISBN, it will automatically be listed on Amazon (and most other online retailers). However, this doesn't mean it's also automatically stocked in Amazon's warehouse. Amazon will show availability depending on how quickly they themselves can order and despatch a title. If you've chosen print on demand (POD) printing then once the POD process is up and running, and a demand for your book has been proved by customer orders, then Amazon will usually show your book as being available for near-immediate despatch, because POD is extremely quick and efficient (and there are no additional shipping costs for you to factor in to your production costs). Availability with Amazon can vary, and if your book sells quickly then it may flip between 'in stock' and 'out of stock' while customer orders are being processed. Alternately, if your book sells slowly, Amazon may decide to reduce stock or even list it as only available through third party sellers.

If you've chosen digital short run or lithographic printing (we call this 'Bulk Printing'), then Amazon need to order the book through a wholesaler. This can slow the process down and often means Amazon will list your bulk printed book as 'out of stock'. In order for your bulk printed book to be guaranteed as 'in stock' with Amazon (and available for immediate despatch to customers) your book needs to be supplied either through a formal wholesaler distribution arrangement (we work with Central Books) or it must be registered with the Amazon Advantage Scheme. SilverWood Books has accounts with both Central Books and Amazon Advantage, so after discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of each route-to-market with you, we can apply to have your book stocked in Amazon's warehouse, with improved availability. Both Central Books and Amazon are very efficient at managing stock and delivering orders, but as with all distribution arrangements there are trade discounts (usually in excess of 60% of RRP) to be factored in to your profit calculations. This means net receipts (and therefore the money you earn from book sales) are significantly reduced.

4 How does Print On Demand (POD) work?

Print on Demand is very flexible. It works behind the scenes, keeping your book in print and producing books to meet the specific demands of readers without you having to tie up a lot of money in print runs that you have to store and then hope to sell. Most authors order an initial print run of 60-200 books for their own personal use (which also include six for the legal deposit libraries and a small stock for our online bookshop). You can top up at any time with orders as small as one copy, ten copies, or as large as 500 copies if you need them for a big event.

Whatever your needs, POD can fulfil them. In the meantime, it works away in the background so that if someone orders a copy of your book from Wordery, Waterstones, Amazon, The Book Depository or any other retailer (with POD, your book shows worldwide listing), the order quickly tracks through the system, the book is printed and sent out to the retailer, who then delivers it to the customer. You receive payment for all copies sold, subject to any trade discounts. POD includes shipping costs into the retail chain, so there are no additional shipping costs within that transaction for you to factor into your production costs. Find out more about printing by clicking here.

5 What is SilverWood's Empowered Publishing and how can it help me?

Empowered Publishing helps self-funding writers to produce high quality books, designed to the highest industry standards.

Our aim is to empower you as a self-publishing author and work collaboratively with you to successfully produce, distribute and sell a high quality book. Some bookshops are reluctant to stock self-published books because while the writing may be good the books themselves are let down by poor copy-editing, unprofessional page layout and amateurish cover design. Book shop owners and their customers will expect your book to look like a 'real' book, so it's vital that what you're offering them matches the high production values of mainstream publishing houses. That's where Empowered Publishing can help you, because all our books are individually designed and finished to the highest industry standards.

Empowered Publishing offers the same kind of author-publisher relationship that you might expect from a high-profile mainstream publisher. Many self-funding authors say it offers them a halfway house between DIY self-publishing and mainstream. The friendly professional team at SilverWood will take you through the publishing process from submission to book delivery, with aftercare that includes sales fulfilment, stock storage and maintenance, invoicing, accounting and regular payments to the author. For books that we sell through our trade accounts, we retain 15% of RRP.

This leaves you with the freedom to get on with marketing your current book and writing your next!

6 What's the difference between vanity publishing and self-publishing?

Old-style 'vanity' publishers are likely to assure you that your writing is wonderful, even if it isn't, just to get you to sign up to an often expensive publishing deal. They often masquerade as traditional or mainstream publishers. They may charge many thousands of pounds for high quality production, but the books delivered are frequently poorly produced with sub-standard cover design and inexpert typesetting.

Writers are rightly wary of vanity presses and many choose to sidestep its pitfalls by self-publishing. Self-publishing is a fast-growing phenomenon whereby a writer decides to get their book out into the marketplace by doing everything themselves. And that really does mean everything. To truly 'self-publish' a writer must set up their own publishing company, buy a number of ISBNs and begin to produce their own books - becoming editor, typesetter, proofreader, book cover designer, project manager, publishing administrator, printer, promoter, bookseller and customer service representative... Some writers juggle these roles successfully, especially if they have a flair for design and/or marketing. However, many of the criticisms levelled at self-published books (that they're poorly edited, badly designed and amateurish) may be because it takes training and experience to become good at just one of these roles. Attempting to attain professional levels in all of them just isn't practical. Besides, many writers don't want to learn all these skills, or coordinate and manage a team of professionals to do it for them. They just want to write - which is where SilverWood's Empowered Publishing comes in.

SilverWood's Empowered Publishing isn't true self-publishing (although we do help a number of self-publishers who bring their own ISBNs to us) and it definitely isn't vanity publishing either. It's more akin to what you can expect from a mainstream publisher - a small professional team will take you through the publishing process from submission to book delivery and beyond, with open and transparent pricing structures and aftercare that includes sales fulfilment, stock storage and maintenance, invoicing, accounting and regular payments to the author.

Empowered Publishing offers you the freedom to get on with what you enjoy: your writing.

We charge a fair price for professional publishing services, and we only tell you that your writing is wonderful if it really is. If it isn't, we'll let you know as sensitively and constructively as we can and encourage you to join a writing group, find an editorial mentor, or work with us to improve your manuscript. This is because our business model works by selling books; there's no mileage for us in producing books that aren't any good because they're unlikely to find a market.

We aim to produce high quality books that writers can be proud of and readers can enjoy - beautiful books to give, to read, to treasure - and we're building a reputation for doing just that. Many of our authors come back to us time and again to publish other books, which is the sort of endorsement that makes us excited and proud.

7 How much does it cost to publish with SilverWood Books?

We firmly believe that there's no such thing as a 'standard' book, or a one-price-fits-all. Every project is unique and brings its own challenges. Book production can be divided into three stages - manuscript preparation (editing and proofreading), pre-press (including typesetting and cover design), and printing.

Printing is fairly predictable and we can offer prices for most types of books, whether POD or bulk-printed, B&W interior or full colour. Pre-press, by contrast, is a moveable feast - a book containing 60 pages of simple, straightforward text will involve significantly less work than a longer book containing text alongside many photographs, captions, charts, footnotes, appendices, boxed material or bullet point lists, and a range of heading hierarchies (all of which take time and skill to format, prepare for print, and position within the overall artwork).

Skip to Question 9 below for further information on the cost of publishing, and also check out our article How Much Does it Really Cost...?

8 How much is copy-editing and proofreading?

Fees would vary according to the complexity of the text and the condition of the manuscript, or whether English is the writer's first language. Text with academic, legal or medical content that needs a high level of fact-checking and understanding of terminology will be charged at a higher rate than fiction. We prefer to see your manuscript so we can assess the extent of the work involved and give you an accurate estimate (and sometimes we'll copy-edit a page or two to demonstrate the attention to detail required for professional publication). As a general guide, copy-editing starts at around £8 per 1000 words + VAT.

9 Does SilverWood Books give value for money?

We certainly think so, and if you choose to work with SilverWood you will soon realise that you get much more than you pay for. Our research shows that a conservative estimate of costs to professionally edit, proofread, design, typeset and project manage an average 70,000 word novel up to the point of printing is around £7500. After that, a budget will need to be set for printing, binding, warehousing and distributing the books, followed by launch costs, advertising and marketing.

Our range of pre-press packages cost-effectively bundles many of these services together and offers you the opportunity to have your book professionally prepared for print, usually for a lot less than £7500!

We don't use templates or off-the-peg book cover designs even with our most basic publishing packages - every page is individually hand-formatted, and your cover artwork is created especially for your work. Our optional Writers' Services Menu allows you to select additional or enhanced services if you'd like them. Editing and proofreading are popular add-ons, because it's vital to make sure your book is the very best it can be before it goes to print.

10 Why does SilverWood retain a percentage on books it sells?

We manage our authors’ book sales through a wide range of trading accounts around the world with POD, and within the UK with our trade distributor when a bulk print run is ordered (you can find out more about bulk print runs here). If you decide to go ahead and work with us, you’ll be using SilverWood Books to produce, publish and distribute your book, and you won’t need to set up these trading accounts yourself or register for withholding tax in US territories. You own all the books, and you set the retail price of your book, usually with our help and advice to ensure you make a reasonable return on each sale.

A trade discount is set for the general retail and wholesale trade, because every link in the supply chain expects to make a small amount on the transaction to at least cover their own costs in getting your book into readers' hands. The third-party trade discount is usually 25-30% on POD books (significantly higher with a trade distribution company, who would expect 50-60%). This trade discount is split between the operators of the supply chain. As your distributor, SilverWood also takes a trade discount of 15% on all book sales that are fulfilled through our established relationships within the book supply chain.

You keep 100% of the proceeds from books you take delivery of, and which you sell yourself at talks, seminars and other events.

11 I’m publishing my book to make a profit - is that a good idea?

Publishing can be profitable if you have a clear business plan and you've written a book that is likely to be in demand (non-fiction usually does well, as do local or niche interest books). Of course there are some amazing success stories (just type Rachel Abbott and EL James into any search engine). Closer to home, some SilverWood authors are cutting a dash with their achievements (prestigious awards, sales in the thousands per month, high royalty payments and national media coverage). However the reality is that most writers who publish their own work sell modestly. And selling is usually accompanied by a lot of hard work, a good promotional strategy, and a healthy dose of luck and good timing ('right book, right time’).

No one wants to make a loss, and you should work out what you can afford well in advance of dipping a toe in the waters of indie or self-funded publishing. However, there are other reasons for publishing your own book. Some of our authors talk about their reasons here.

12 Do I need to officially copyright my work?

Your work is automatically copyrighted when you create it. Your copyright is not in the idea itself, but in the expression of the idea - so the exact words written in the exact same order. As an author you automatically have copyright over your writing, unless you assign it to someone else. You do not have to go through any formal procedure - if you wrote it, and you have not infringed someone else’s copyright, then the copyright is yours. Copyright means that no one can use your work without your permission.

With book titles, there's no copyright on a title, but there is an offence of 'passing off' so it's always worth doing your research and making sure there isn't a similar book with an identical title. If so, it could be worth changing your title, not least because you don't want your hard work in marketing your book end up boosting the sales of someone else's!

Read more about copyright law in the UK at the British Government's Intellectual Property Office and in this article on copyright from our Learning Zone.

13 Why do amendments have to be kept to a minimum at the page proof stage?

We strongly encourage all our authors to submit final text so that only small changes are necessary at the print proof stage. By final text, we mean that your manuscript should be ready for publication, copy-edited and/or proofread.

Page layout formatting (typesetting) your manuscript takes many hours of close work. Changes made to the text at a late stage can affect pagination (the arrangement and number of pages in a book). Sometimes even a relatively small change can mean that entire page layouts require re-formatting.

Due to the time and care needed to make changes, we will make a charge for the time taken to make any amendments or revisions that you choose to make after we have typeset your manuscript (although you will always be given the option to decline amendments or revisions and thus their charges).

14 So I've published my book - what do I have to do to promote it?

If you've done your research, you'll know that selling a book you've published yourself requires hard work, lots of energy and drive, and a certain amount of ingenuity and originality. That's why every author who publishes with SilverWood receives a free Quick Start Book Marketing workbook to help them plan their launch and a basic book marketing campaign. We also offer a variety of book marketing tools to help you sell your books, including our Tailored Marketing Plan which sets out a detailed online and off-line strategy to help you market your self-published book, and keep abreast of new book promotion trends.

We also work with a range of trusted book publicists and PR specialists if you need professional profile-raising assistance or national and regional media coverage.

15 What is Legal Deposit?

The Legal Deposit Libraries Act of 2003 allows the British Library to request a copy of every book published in the UK. In addition, the deposit regulations of the Copyrights Acts 1911 and 1963 allows the five copyright libraries of the UK to request copies. These requests usually come via the Legal Deposit Agency in Edinburgh, Scotland.

This means that in your first print run you should allow for an additional six copies which we will send to the Legal Deposit libraries on your behalf. Copies go to the British Library, Oxford Bodleian Library, Cambridge University Library, the National Library of Scotland, Trinity College Dublin, and the National Library of Wales.

Publications deposited with the British Library are made available to users in its various Reading Rooms. They are preserved for the benefit of future generations and become part of the nation's heritage.

16 Tell me about Cataloguing in Publication (CIP)

British Library's CIP programme provides records about new and forthcoming books to the library book buying market in the UK. Libraries are then alerted to titles of interest to their users, and may make their purchasing decisions based on the information. The CIP programme is offered free of charge to participating publishers by Bibliographic Data Services Ltd (BDS). BDS create a CIP record for each title, including details such as author, title and publisher, projected date of publication, pagination, ISBN and price.

17 Tell me about Public Lending Rights

Public Lending Right (PLR) is the right for authors to receive payment under PLR legislation for the loans of their books by public libraries. If their book is eligible, authors can register for PLR by checking the 'three steps to registration' link at www.plr.uk.com. When an eligible book has been registered, payments are made annually on the basis of loans data collected from a sample of public libraries in the UK. The sample libraries change every year, and it's worth noting that if your book is not physically stocked in a sample library then you can't be included in the count (and therefore won't be eligible to receive PLR payments).

18 What happens if I'm not happy?

The SilverWood team strives to give the very best service we can at all times, and we work in partnership with our authors. Good communication at each stage of the publishing process is the key, and we hope that our collaborative approach builds a good relationship - so that if something's not quite right, you'll tell us immediately and we can correct it before we go to the next stage of the process.

We are always keen to improve our services wherever possible, so we welcome your comments and feedback. Your opinion is very important to us and helps us evaluate the work we do. We must stress, however, that we work hard for our authors, and we don't tolerate anyone who takes an adversarial approach or becomes abusive to any members of our hard-working team.

19 Does SilverWood Books have an Environmental Policy?

Yes, we do. We recognise that our operations have an environmental impact and that it is our responsibility to minimise this and to operate in an environmentally responsible manner. From the time of implementation (April 2009) we aim to:

  • Reduce paper use in office by only printing out documents we really need and otherwise using electronic documents.
  • Reuse packaging as far as possible, recycling any unsuitable for re-use.
  • Recycle office paper.
  • Recycle plastic bottles, cans, glass, cardboard, ink cartridges, batteries and aerosols.
  • Use only FSC-certified paper products for print projects.
  • Where appropriate and possible, opt for recycled paper products.
  • Choose ecologically-sound cleaning products and toilet tissue whenever possible.

20 If I order books from your online bookshop, do you ship internationally?

We do ship internationally. For more information about where we deliver and the cost, please add items to your basket and select the correct shipping option. You're not committed to the purchase until you go through the secure checkout.

If you decide not to go ahead, please remember to empty your basket so that you don't accidentally purchase that item if you visit us again.

Have a question you don't see here...?

Check out The Learning Zone where we feature a range of free articles about publishing and promoting your work.

If you're ready to publish in partnership with SilverWood then please see our Quick Start Guide here.

If you still can't find what you're looking for, simply drop us a line and we'll respond as quickly as possible.

“If you’re thinking of self-publishing, I hope you don't go at it alone. With a team like SilverWood behind you, you have the support you need to publish the best work you believe in.”

J A Higgins